spake an ardent believer
by Roopinder Singh
Bhai Ardaman Singh compiled by Bhai Ashok Singh. Institute of
Sikh Studies, Chandigarh. Pages 250. Rs 395.
Ardaman Singh Bagrian as a person is hard to define. A man
steeped in tradition, but who projected himself through the
modern idiom. Born in 1899, he passed away in 1976, having seen
the transition from feudal India, of which he was very much a
part, to independent, socialist India. He was among the towering
personalities who dominated the socio-religious canvas of Punjab
for a significant part of this century
And what a
personality he was as were his contemporaries! Bhai Kahn Singh
Nabha, Principal Teja Singh, Giani Gian Singh, Bawa Hari Krishan
Singh — they dominated the intellectual and social ethos of
Punjab then. And they would often get together at Bagrian House
to discuss matters and exchange ideas. This was the time when
differences were resolved with civility, when people agreed to
disagree with grace.
Singh was a Sikh, a scion of a family that traced its roots to
Bhai Rup Chand who was blessed by Guru Hargobind. His father,
Bhai Arjan Singh, had a pre-eminent position in Sikh society of
his days and the son managed to adapt to changing circumstances
himself with clarity and forcefulness which can be seen in his
collection of writings, "Thoughts of Bhai Ardaman
Singh," compiled by his son, Bhai Ashok Singh. The writer
is opposed to what he called plagiarism — the propensity of
scholars of Sikhism to base their works on those of scholars who
adhered to other traditions. A proponent of an independent Sikh
religious identity, Bhai Ardaman Singh was steadfast in opposing
"brahminical influences" on Sikhism.
What then is
his concept of a Sikh? "Sikhs as a whole, are known as the
Panth. The Panth includes all sorts of Sikhs, whether perfect or
imperfect, novice or fully responsible, sehajdhari or amritdhari.
Anyone who believes in the Guru and the Gurbani and has faith in
no one else, cannot be denied to be a Sikh and, therefore, is a
member of the Panth. For every Sikh there is a bar. Once he or
she crosses this bar, he (she) is elevated to the selection
grade, and after having received amrit he (she) becomes a Khalsa,
a member of the Akal Purkh’s fauj (army of God), who
surrender their life and are tested and consecrated with the
sword, a class of God-conscious men, saint-warriors, out to
protect the good and spread goodness and punish evil-doers and
Whether he is
exploring historical aspects of the religion or expounding on
various concepts central to the faith, the author comes across
as a believer well-versed in the Gurbani and the Sikh lore. He
quotes extensively from the scriptures and is an ardent advocate
of an independent Sikh identity — be it religious or cultural.
interesting to note what he has to say on the concept of maryada.
"There is no special spiritual sanctity attached to maryada
in Sikhism. But it is like the Constitution of a civilised and
organised government of a country, to which loyalty is sworn. It
has been formed and has been evolved from time to time by the
Sikhs as a whole called "Panth". It is the point
around which the whole organisation revolves and keeps together.
Without a Constitution or rules and regulations, no society or
individual can properly function. Without this regulation
everything becomes a total chaos. It is a matter of strategy for
protection and advancement of the Sikhs, to co-ordinate and
integrate and keep them on the path. Maryada has evolved and
changed according to the requirements, needs and conditions
through which the Panth has passed. It will have to adapt itself
and change in future also when necessity and urgency of the
situation calls. A static constitution is always fatal to the
cause. Our maryada, therefore, has to be dynamic and a living,
pulsating and functioning Constitution. But it has to conform to
and be subservient to the spirits and tenets laid down in the
Satguru’s Shabad incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib."
as diverse as Guru Nanak’s way of life, simran, the Sikh
sword, worship, singing the lord’s praises, karam gratefulness
sant sadh sangat, women among the Sikhs, renunciation,
clothes, food and unity, intolerance and culture are discussed
in this compilation. The chapter on ardas is particularly
interesting for readers who are not too familiar with the
various aspects alluded to in the prayer.
As a reader peruses various
topics in the book, he would see the work of an ardent believer
and proponent of Sikhism who has expressed himself forcefully.
The reader would have to keep in mind the time frame which set
the tone of the writing, though the thoughts expressed through
it transcend temporal limitations.
A sensitive poet
looks at his universe
by Jaspal Singh
is one of the finest modern Punjabi poets though his output is
frugal. In the quarter of a century since he started writing,
he has produced only two collections of poems. ‘‘Likhtam
Parminderjit" appeared in 1981 and the second collection,
"Meri Marfat", has been released just now after a
gap of 19 years. In between he edited a few collections of
doing poetry, he has played an important role in the literary
life of Punjab being the editor of two well-known Punjabi
literary journals — "Loa" and "Akkhar".
The former ceased to appear a few years ago and the latter is
only a couple of years old.
collection, "Meri Marfat", carries 48 poems and each
one of them is born out of deep meditation. As a writer,
Parminderjit is not wedded to any well-defined ideology or
"ism". Strictly speaking, he may not even be called
a "progressive" poet as most Punjabi writers claim
to be. Yet there is something in his writing that brings him
intimately close to life with an unusual feel and sensitivity.
The poet does
not raise global issues, nor is he concerned with the
interplay of cosmic forces. He is engaged in his own small
battles which he has to make every now and then like millions
of other citizens of India.
of these battles constitutes the long protracted war of
survival. As he fights his way through the battle of life, he
unfolds its enigmatic paradoxes, thus allowing the reader a
peep into the imperceptible processes going on beneath the
outer layer of formal propriety and order. The struggle for
existence thus becomes an exploratory expedition through
different existential situations of life characterised by
pleasure and pain, fun and fatigue, titillation and tedium and
defiance and distress.
In a poem
"Khirhki" (window) the poet says, "Khirhki
khuldian hi/supnilian te peedian galvakkrhian ‘chon/humas
aun lagda e/kite andron hi sunai dinda e lorhan te thurhan da
raag bharvi/milda e/anchopri roti ‘te achaar di farhi jinna
sakun." (As the window opens, the smell of firm dreamy
embraces overwhelms you and classical music produced by wants
and deprivations of life emanates from inside you, which calms
you down like bread and water do to the starving.)
"opening of the window" has nothing to do with the
material and physical window or the act of opening it. This
"window" is the dawning of consciousness, a kind of
realisation into the existential processes of life that
pervade the entire universe of an individual.
observes, ‘‘Khirhki khuldian hi jeen da arth samajh aunda
e/khirhki khuldian hi/man apni hi tishngi ‘ch lagda e iven/jhiven
kambda e phul di patti te pia/koi trel-tupka.... /khirkhi
khuldian hi shuru hundi e/Andran di anant-yatra/Isi yatra nu
bol dindi e khirhki...." (The hidden meaning of life
flashes across one’s mind as the window opens and the mind
trembles with desire like the dewdrop on a flower. With the
opening of the window begins the articulation of the eternal
wanderlust of the guts.....)
skill fully internalises the obvious images and artistically
transforms them into aesthetic motifs that shake the reader
out of his complacence.
poem, "Jo koi injh hi aave", he says that as a
beaten-track is formed on unknown fragrant tracts of land and
as the river erodes its banks and makes tiny islets and a
watery wave turns into a sandy expanse, so from its sandy
features emerges the vision of water. As a feeling of verdure
rustles the branches of a middle-aged tree, so the space of a
body diffuses across the firmament, as the reflection of a
dream moves on the body in sleep, and as the liquidity of
breath shapes the destination of affection, and as a lot
happens like living in life and so on....
In the poem
"Asin" (we) the poet says, "If life does not
give you much, it does not ask for much either.... How many
skies do you need to take a flight or how much of land do you
need to realise your dreams? How much water do you need to
quench your thirst?.... A patch of sunlight in the patio, a
wheat complexioned figure sitting in dim light, a smile on an
innocent face like a flower drenched in dew, a trembling hand
of a mother raised to bless somebody, a dreaming face seen
through a father’s dim eyes, a row of flowers in the
backyard, a greyish sparrow twittering from the parapet, doors
waiting for the loved one, an evening cuddled in warm memories
and a lyrical face melting in cozy fluidity and so on — what
else do you expect from life." The poet asks this
has his own ideas about life and living which are based on
strong feelings for the human spirit. Everything in his
surroundings activates his sensory perceptions. He states,
"What is there in living? When you write a new poem life
becomes worth living or when you read a beautiful poem or hear
a melodious tune from afar or watch a bird darting across the
welkin, you feel like living.’’ Man, the poet complains,
looks away from all the vital moments of life and hence he
shrinks slowly and steadily. In fact he longs for decay and
death not for lust and life.
Poetry is a
means of survival for the poet. It beckons him with a pen and
paper in hand to bring it to life in a visual form. It
promises him to take upon itself all his woes and worries and
exhorts him to bypass the inhibiting hindrances on the way to
reach it on the isles of love where it has been waiting for
him for long.
autobiographical poem on the death of his mother is full of
remorse since the poet has been creating problems for her when
she was alive. He observes that nobody has ever been able to
pay back the debt of the womb. He himself has proved to be a
very ordinary son who always brought his mother late hour
worries by keeping her anxiously awake till midnight. And now
the mother who always stood by her son in pain and pleasure
like an old shady tree, has left for ever leaving a permanent
scar on the memory screen of the poet.
da geet" (song of silence), the poet states that he is a
desert with storm raging about its dunes and at the moment, he
is busy in composing a song of silence which requires solitude
and freedom from the clutter of words, meanings and
utterances. He pronounces, "I am trying to carve out a
smiling visage of a benediction for you so that your sky is
bedecked with stars and in the process I am moving an age away
from myself." The mind, the poet says, trickles down
through the crevices and fissures. People cook up stories and
themselves become their heroes while he keeps on watching
helplessly as heat is being generated by bodies; screaming
arms raised to the skies; people raising human walls
everywhere; fingers dipped in blood and a bayonet shining on
remarks that he is not the cheerful one that people usually
encounter; rather he is a whirlwind imprisoned within the
walls of flesh or an island surrounded by salty waters of wild
allegations where no ship or sail could ever touch, where the
life span melts from one’s own heat, where one has to carve
out from his own clay a statue of his innocent desire, where
the strong wind ruffles the facial features, where a season of
mishaps goes on eternally, where tears trickle down before
bursting into a laughter and where one cannot dream even when
The being of
the poet shuttles between two extremes of time — the past
and the non-past. He states, "I am slowly gathering all
that I have lost in the trembling shadows of the past and
non-past. But it seems there is not much left that can now be
retrieved late in the day when the shadows are lengthening and
the birds are flying back to their perches to roost for the
poetry is highly reflective with images and paradoxes created
through experiential meditation. It is an existential
outpouring of a man caught in the whirlwind of the turbulent
times. At every step the poet faces the tragic moments of
truth, when even one’s relations are shuffled and reshuffled
depending on the situation they are placed in the material
hierarchy of life.
The fluidity of human
condition breeds angst and remorse that unleash a gentle
poetic rill down the slopes of human existence. Herein lies
the importance of being Parminderjit, the poet of
"guilt", "action" and "anguish".
of the history of mind
by Rumina Sethi
for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino. Vintage, London. Pages
124. £ 5.99. Translated from Italian by Patrick Creagh.
Calvino writes in her note on the text of "Six Memos for
the Next Millennium". "About the title: Although I
carefully considered the fact that the title chosen by Italo
Calvino, ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’, does not
correspond to the manuscript as I found it, I have felt it
necessary to keep it. Calvino was delighted by the word ‘memos’,
after having thought of and dismissed titles such as ‘Some
Literary Values’, ‘A Choice of Literary Values’,’Six
Literary Legacies’, all of them ending with ‘the Next
Calvino was to
deliver the Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard in 1985 and the
text of the lectures was found ready to be put into his
suitcase, all on his desk, by his wife. As she points out, these
lectures became an obsession with him in the last year of his
life. Five of these were complete and the sixth he had planned
to write in Cambridge. He wanted to call the sixth lecture
Drawing on the
works of Lucretius, Ovid, Baccacio, Flaubert, Kundera and Perec,
Calvino draws on the universal laws and indispensable literary
values future generations might hold in high esteem such as
has arrived but it was 15 years away when the Cuba- born Italian
novelist Italo Calvino wrote these lectures, but sadly could not
deliver them as he died just before his departure for the USA.
We see staring us in the face what often has been debated, the
death of the book in the so-called post-industrial age. Calvino
ignores this issue with a deep confidence in the future of
literature which "consists of the knowledge that there are
things that only literature can give us, by means specific to
it". He, therefore, devotes his lectures to "certain
values, qualities, or peculiarities of literature that are very
close to his heart, trying to situate them within the
perspective of the new millennium".
It is Calvino’s
minute, luminous tracing from the Medusa myth, placed in the
foreground of his first chapter on "Lightness", that
he sets in contrast of the "world of weight and
opacity" symbolised by the idea of Perseus turning into
stone if he looks directly at the face of the Gorgon. To cut off
her head without being turned to stone, Perseus "supports
himself on the very lightest of things, the winds and the
clouds", and fixes his gaze upon what can be revealed only
by indirect vision, "an image caught in a mirror".
Kundera’s novel "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"
amply illustrated how everything we choose and value in life for
its lightness soon reveals its true, unbearable weight. It is in
reality "a bitter confirmation of the ineluctable weight of
living", a confirmation of the human condition common to us
In the same
way, it is so true in a world of science that software cannot
exercise its powers of lightness except through the weight of
hardware. The heavy machine of the first industrial revolution
still exists but it obeys the orders of weightless
"bits", a product of the second industrial revolution.
Emptiness, a lightness, therefore, is just as concrete as solid
bodies. The new millennium will be what we bring to it and
lightness is one "memo" or virtue that will balance
out the weight of a material world.,
to the economy of expression in folktales, Calvino illustrates
his idea of "quickness". He argues through innumerable
illustrations that most outlandish adventures are recounted with
an eye fixed on the bare essentials. There is always "a
battle against fire, against the obstacles that prevent or delay
the fulfilment of a desire or the repossession of something
cherished but lost."
A story can
only be told through the agility of both thought and expression,
a correctness of style through a "quick adjustment".
Very interestingly, Calvino illustrates this through De Quincey’s
"The English Mail Coach" (1849) where the idea of
speed and the dangers of a motorised highway world are ultimate
in precision like story-telling with a quickness that conveys
the extremely short period of time, of physical speed as well as
mental which are involved in avoiding a fatal crash. Speed and
consciousness of style please us because in the words of Giacomo
Leopardi, "they present the mind with a rush of ideas that
are simultaneous and set the mind afloat on such an abundance of
thought or images or spiritual feelings that either it cannot
embrace them all or it has no time to be idle and empty of
Calvino is trying to suggest that the power of poetic style is
the same thing as rapidity, an idea that is also found in the
works of Galileo Galilei who uses the metaphor of the horse for
the speed of thought, an agility of reading along with economy
in argument and the use of imaginative examples. This is poetic
style which is synonymous with the method of thought and
writes: "Quickness of style and thought means above all
agility, mobility and ease, all qualities that go with writing
where it is natural to digress, to jump from one subject to
another, to lose the thread a hundred times and find it again
after a hundred more twists and turns."
thus, found no difference between poetry and prose. In both, the
writer must look for the "unique expression, one that is
concise, concentrated and memorable" because "success
consists in felicity of verbal expression, which every so often
may result from a quick flash of inspiration but as a rule
involves a patient search for the mot juste for the
sentence in which every world is unalterable, the most effective
marriage of sounds and concepts."
excellent third lecture "Exactitude", he begins by
depicting exactitudes as a well-calculated plan for any work
that would evoke incisive and memorable images in precise
language. This is a reactionto the modern epidemic afflicting
the use of words and reveals itself in a loss of cognition and
the importance of "visibility" in poetic art, Calvino
takes recourse to Dante’s definition of imagination in the
"Divine Comedy" where he talks of the visions
presented to him that were almost like film projections or
television images. The poet has to "imagine visually both
what his actor sees and what he thinks he sees".
visionary gifts of Dante and Michelangelo are here stressed by
Calvino. Surely sacred art was used as a means of visual
communication to grasp the meaning of the verbal teachings in
Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation: "The believer is
called upon personally to paint frescoes crowded with figures on
the walls of his mind, starting out from the stimuli that his
visual imagination succeeds in extracting from a theological
proposition or a laconic verse from the gospels."
varying persuasiveness shows itself in the last chapter,
"Multiplicity". Here he takes the contemporary novel
as an encyclopaedia, as a method of knowledge and a network of
connections between events, people and things: "Whatever
the starting point, the matter in hand spreads out and out,
encompassing ever vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to
go on further and further in every direction, it would end by
embracing the entire universe." He falls back here on Carol
Emilio Gadda’s (the Italian equivalent of James Joyce) work to
show that "each system conditions the others and is
conditioned by them". In Gadda he finds the world expanding
until it can no longer be grasped since the author is anxious to
plumb the multiplicity of the writable within the briefness of
life that consumes it.
Though most of
the mythological material, intent on demonstrating its author’s
serious scholarly purpose is rather dry for modern tastes, there
are moments when it is clear that the lectures are written by
the master of story telling who has created a comprehensive and
accessible survey of a wide field of world literature in a
deeply imaginative prose. Calvino continues to cast a long and
strangely fascinating shadow over the world of contemporary
ingenious synthesising of common and less familiar material from
contemporary and classical sources tempers the tone of
doctrinnaire polemic audible in places. His responsiveness to
the literary aspirations of the coming millennium makes his book
a pointer and a sermon for aspiring writers of tomorrow.
Clear-headed and very readable,
rich in literary heritage and illusion, the book is an unusual,
deft, often piercing meditation on "Lightness",
"Quickness" and "Multiplicity". Apart from
giving us an idea of the breadth of Calvino’s interests from
Charlemagne to Gadda, it stands out as a model of historicist
criticism. Calvino writes out of desire, making his lectures
instructive and emblematic. He argues stridently, strenuously.
Indeed, one of the things that emerges most strikingly from his
lectures is the sharpness of Calvino’s critical intelligence
in the areas of literature. Indeed he uses writing as a
rehearsal for his life. It is sad that the relative serenity of
the lectures was brutally cut short by his untimely and sudden
to catch a customer?
by Chandra Mohan
Which Shook the World by James B. Twitchell. Heritage
hardback by Crown Publishers.
today’s world of idling plants and frequent job shedding, the
customer holds the key. The unfortunate part is that the
educated and informed customer of today has become extremely
choosy and demanding, even whimsical. He is totally
unpredictable. Call him God, call him king, he has become the
CEO’s total focus.
begins with snatching customer attention away from whatever he
is doing towards your product: the ad in the newspaper; the TV
spot; the window display or, even the fruit-seller singing away
the juiciness of his meticulously polished and shiny oranges.
This initial draw has also become pricey. Spot-ads at Rs 50,000
for 10 seconds apiece of tens of not very different soaps
compete for attention. Entry launch cost of a car in the USA to
$ 25 million. The pity is that all are wild-cards; there are no
guarantees. And, that holds true whether it is "Utterly,
butterly Amul" or "Hamara Bajaj".
In such a
world, true-life stories of some global product names which are
the entire creation of advertisement gives refreshing thought.
And, as one reads the names, the phenomenal power of creativity
in advertisement dawns: an arresting appeal which can travel
what is Pears soap? Nothing extraordinary when compared to other
soaps. It was Millais’s 1988 ad which linked its transparency
to the fairness of the complexion of a baby that has made Pears
a centurion; right answer to the working class prayer to be able
to emulate the fair skin of nobility in their children. Since
its sheen and transparency could only be produced by manual
polishing, its global production was shifted by Unilever to
India decades ago to offset the rising costs of European labour.
it all; a total advertising illusion. Otherwise, a worthless
piece of crystalline carbon, no practical utility whatsoever.
Yet, the most cherished and prized possession of every woman in
the world; pricey and exclusive. To be possessed for ever and
never to be sold. A shimmer on the engagement ring; cherished
symbol of bond of wedlock unto death and then to be passed on as
heirloom. Global supply control for exclusivity and fancy
prices. De Beers has created that myth.
A bottle of
sweet water called Coke; Nike’s Rs 10,000 equivalent of the Rs
10 Bata of our childhood; the list goes on.
hopefully moving into brand enlargement, can only be subsequent
steps. One has to move far deeper into understanding of
customers and then develop specific curricula for reach;
frequent-flier airline programmes and Pepsi’s Tazzo discs.
The goal of a
permanent hook requires clear answers in objectives; can they be
measured? Cost of bringing one customer, not a visitor? Cost of
having that customer return? And if that works, can we scale it?
In our eternal
hunt for armchair solutions and soft options; e-commerce with
its B2B and B2C, became a craze overnight. Pigeons have already
started coming home to roost, if not roast. In the blind
hit among the millions of domain names on the web, the chance of
a browser landing on your site and clicking is not a joke. To
make that click a repeat and also pay enough to defray expenses
makes it far tougher.
Even Jeff Bezos
is discovering to his cost that his ever-expanding
revenue-multiplier Amazon.com machine based on ever-rising
stock- market appreciaton has to halt. He is fast driving
towards the eternal bottom line focus. Fortunately, he has some
left over cash to give him some breathing time. Many of his
likes who were not so fortunate, have already sunk into
oblivion.The Silicon Valley is littered with corpses.
The name of the game is to
think. Think costs; think returns.
Growth and bureaucratic drag
by Randeep Wadehra
Human Develo-pment: Issues and Challenges by Kamal Taori.
Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages xx351. Rs 500.
Development and the Challenge of the Twentyfirst Century by
V.S. Gupta. Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 195. Rs 300.
Human Develo-pment: Issues and Challenges by Kamal Taori.
Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages xx351. Rs 500.
was a time when development was ideology-driven. Champions of
free market economy felt that human genius must be given full
play to enable a society achieve material prosperity. On the
other hand, socialists believed in a planned economy where all
types of resources were harnessed in an optimum manner for the
benefit of all people. Thus, the world was divided more or
less into two halves.
the days when nations could afford to keep themselves in
comfortable politico-economic conceptual slots. Thanks to the
technological revolution, the world has shrunk. This has made
theoretical and ideological experimentation less relevant to
economic progress. Whatever brings economic benefits is
adopted to the needs of an economy. Therefore, development
today is technology-driven and does not recognise traditional
Taori, in the
first chapter, points out that in the past most of India’s
anti-poverty programmes suffered from basic weaknesses of
ignoring economics and a policy if announced in the name of
the poor sufficed. It is important that such programmes are
primed to achieve specific objectives.
the author advocates the need for not taking urbanisation as
the most important index of economic progress. Quoting from a
UN report, he avers that economic growth does necessarily
ensure human development. However, human development is
critical to economic growth. The report further points out
that often the lack of political will and not financial
resources retards a nation’s progress.
In order to
make the optimum use of natural resources, the human angle
must always be kept in mind.
four and five, Taori talks of a holistic approach to rural
development which would bring about a fruitful equation
between agricultural development and industrialisation.
Towards this end the central, state and local governments will
have to come up with suitable developmental institutions,
personnel and activities.
chapter, "Training needs of rural development
sector", the author dwells at length on the need for
inculcating "will and skill" for various vocations
among the rural folks — especially the youth. Since
specialisation in skills has become essential, all training
programmes should be so oriented as to develop suitable
competencies among the village youth. In fact the programmes
will have to be chalked out keeping in mind the special
economic, social and cultural environment which prevails in a
particular area. We all know that attempts to teach
pisciculture, especially "prawn farming", in the
states of Haryana and Punjab failed, though some would say
these met with partial success.
has to keep in mind the caste factor while suggesting various
vocational options. Low- cost, high-yield avenues of
self-employment will have to be specially designed for the
Last but not
the least, in order to make sustainable human development a
success, the various government agencies will have to actively
seek popular consent and support. Without public participation
it would be almost impossible for such development to endure
or even actually take place.
before our social scientists are far beyond the socio-cultural
factors. Even economic handicaps can be overcome. What we
really need is political will and a vision and an enthusiastic
bureaucratic implementation of such a vision.
is divided into three parts. The first part highlights market
issues, the second deals with training attitude and the third
analyses policy issues. There are about 40 chapters dealing
with topics ranging from "Religion and development"
to "Non-resident Indians and rural development".
presents interesting ideas and perspectives.
« « «
Development and the Challenge of the Twentyfirst Century by
V.S. Gupta. Concept Publishing, New Delhi. Pages 195. Rs 300.
century has become a metaphor for the exotic and the demanding
aspects of human existence. Breathlessly we wait for a
revolutionary change in our lifestyle and circumstance, as
though mere passage of time would somehow transform our
mundane existence. A magic wand would someway resolve old and
persistent problems that bedevil our existence. Yet, the 21st
century does mark the beginning of a new era. Like most things
new, the new century, nay the new millennium itself, has
raised our expectations while posing new challenges.
out that even in the new millennium, development issues like
alleviation of poverty, eradication of illiteracy, environment
protection, preservation of human dignity and culture,
healthcare and population growth continue to give government
institutions as well as thinking persons a lot to mull over.
Since these issues are a continuation from the previous
century, it needs to be analysed as to where did all the
planning go wrong while tackling them.
development is now a human right, it is the primary
responsibility of the government to create conditions
favourable to achieving development for all. Another equally
significant claim is the right to communicate. Article 19 of
the Universal Declaration of Human rights states,
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of
communication is an essential ingredient in the process of
development. Though economic, managerial and other inputs are
essential to carry forward the complex task of development,
communication helps in bringing about understanding among the
various agencies and groups that take part in that process.
with social change, cultural, spiritual and ethical issues are
now included to understand the development process more
communication is said to cover every subject under the rubric
"development" — be it agriculture, environment,
healthcare, literacy and education. The author states that the
importance of communication to human life cannot be
overemphasised. Without communication no society can exist
because no social structure would survive and flourish.
features of communication are: (1) it is a process for
transmission of ideas, thoughts and feelings from one person
to another; (2) communication is persuasive and seeks to
obtain desirable response to what is being transmitted; and
(3) it is a two-way process both vertically and horizontally,
in a spirit of give and take or send and receive.
context, development communication assumes great significance.
It has been variously considered as "a concept, approach,
an ideal or even a philosophy". It also underlines a
certain ideology of the use of communication for development.
The term "development journalism" came into vogue in
the late 1960s when reporting on development economics became
important for various news agencies and publications. In fact
this term was first used in an international discussion at
Philippines University of Los Banos.
of development journalism goes beyond keeping a watch on
government activities. It is expected to promote development.
Peter Golding pointed out that development journalism could
promote national progress by (1) stressing the educational
function of news by raising the awareness of events and
issues; (2) producing stories about social needs or problems
in the hope of stirring up government action; and (3)
highlighting self-help projects that can be implemented by
other communities and reporting on obstacles to development.
J.F. Jamias, development journalism is characterised by the
following five formalistically defined criteria: (1)
purposefulness (goal oriented); (2) pragmatism (judged by
results); (3) relevance (to the development of the country);
(4) mass orientation (by addressing common problems); and (5)
scientific outlook of development journalists.
forms of journalism, the functions of development journalism
are to inform, educate and entertain. It investigates,
analyses and interprets various development plans. However, in
the initial stages development journalism did resemble
propaganda as journalists had to source their stories from
government departments. Gradually it is coming into its own.
increase in information flow and the widening of information
background, seeds of change germinate. Each part of the
country is made aware of the happenings in other parts, thus
cementing national bonds, as it helps generate a nationwide
dialogue on policy, keeps national goals in public focus, and
keeps the people informed about national accomplishments and,
of course, the failures.
communications are capable of making the entire administrative
system transparent and open to public scrutiny. This is the
ideal way of ensuring development. Like in all democracies,
popular participation is vital for the success of all
development-oriented schemes. Communication is essential for
promoting this participation.
divided this volume into two thematic sections. The first has
two chapters, "Development communication: definitions and
concept" and The Indian communication landscape".
The second section deals with such perennial issues as
literacy, communication for rural development, health,
population, human rights, environment protection, etc. with
special focus on the role of communication.
A thought-provoking effort.
as derivative cultural paradigm
by Akshaya Kumar
Studies: Theory and Practice by Chris Barker. Sage, London.
Pages 424. £ 18.99.
as a supra-disciplinary enterprise, cultural studies first
took institutional shape with the formation of the Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in the
1960s. It was perceived as an intellectual guerrilla movement
waging war on the borders of official academia. It sought to
forge connections outside the academy with social and
political movements, workers and activists at the grassroots
in his book, offers a synoptic view of cultural studies in
terms of its chosen sites, philosophical foundations,
preferred methodologies and emerging pedagogical practices.
The author holds culture to be primarily a language game.
‘‘To understand culture is to explore how meaning is
produced symbolically in a language as ‘a signifying system’
.’’ A good deal of cultural studies is centred on
questions of representation and articulation of identities.
Non-reductionism and anti-essentialism form the central tenets
of cultural studies.
studies derives its basic philosophical impetus from its
critical engagement with orthodox Marxism which treated
economics as the sole basis of consciousness, culture and
politics. Culturalists resist economic determinism built-in
some of the readings of Marxism. Another intellectual strand
against which cultural studies stand up is Arnoldian or
Leavisite definition of culture as a high point of
civilisation. The traditionalists hold culture, as a form of
civilisation, to be counterpoised to the ‘’’ of the
‘‘raw and uncultivated masses’’. Cultural studies do
away with the elitist notions of high and low cultures, and
take a very positive view of popular culture.
a votary of cultural studies, looks at popular culture as an
arena of consent and resistance in the struggle over cultural
meaning. Among culturalists, Raymond Williams, in contrast to
the classical notion of culture, stresses the everyday lived
character of culture as ‘‘a whole way of life’’. For
him, ‘‘Culture is ordinary, in every society, and in every
mind.’’ Culture is concerned as much with tradition as it
is with the ‘‘processes of discovery and creative effort’’.
his ‘‘The Uses of Literacy’’ accords legitimacy to the
ordinariness of culture by undertaking a detailed study of
working class culture. ‘‘History from below’’
constitutes the basic methodology of Thomson’s ‘‘The
Making of the English Working Class’’.
plays a crucial role in mediating between the economic and
cultural, the popular and the high. In fact G. Turner in his
‘‘British Cultural Studies: An Introduction" says
ideology is the most important concept in the foundation of
British cultural studies which could be seen for a while as
‘‘ideological studies’’. Barker’s book does
undertake an extended treatment of the evolution of ideology
from Marx to Althusser and Gramsci in his attempt to trace the
New Left leanings of cultural studies. However surprisingly,
he brings in post-modernism also under the rubric of cultural
studies. Under the chapter ‘‘Enter post-modernism’’ he
includes French post-structuralists like Derrida, Lacan and
Foucault to underline the subtle intervention of
post-modernism in Leftist cultural studies.
carries a glossary of critical jargon under the title: ‘‘The
Language Game of Cultural Studies’’. Such a title is
double-edged in the sense that if it, on the one hand,
establishes the centrality of ‘‘language’’ in cultural
studies and, on the other hand, it also reveals the limitation
of cultural studies as nothing more than a language game.
Barker’s effort is laudable because the book has been
written in a student-friendly language, and is extremely handy
for the needs of students. It gives a comprehensive account of
various critical theories in vogue. But it fails to offer a
critical account of cultural studies in terms of the serious
distortions that have crept into its basic foundations.
refer to Jim McGuigan’s critique on two counts: one,
cultural studies has been unable to distinguish between
consumer culture and popular culture, and, two, that it does
not offer any transformative alternative paradigm. But he
fails to identify other ideological lapses in the entire
programme of cultural studies. From revolutionary Marxist
cultural studies slips into post-modernism, foreclosing its
very radical agenda of establishing working class aesthetics.
Aijaz Ahmad regrets the appropriation of cultural studies by
‘‘cosmopolitan, continental pedagogy and style’’.
After Raymond Williams, it lost its activist edge and most of
the academics got sucked into the storm of French
structuralism as it swept the British Isles.
attempt to establish the popular literature as an acceptable
site of social meaning, cultural studies ends up in promoting
metropolitan popular culture. Commodified recreation of MTV or
fashion channel by no stretch of imagination represents the
working class ethos. By succumbing to the pressures of pop
culture, cultural studies ironically enough conforms to the
tastes of metropolitan lifestyles.
aspect that has toned down the radical claims of cultural
studies is its institutionalisation. Once an activity becomes
institutionalised, it can no longer remain political. Cultural
studies, as Francis Mulhern writes, cannot be taken as ‘‘intervention’’.
Of late it has become a budget-holding discipline offering
credentials, careers and research funds. The oppositional
punch that it promised is more than neutralised by the
benefits institutions offer to the exponents of cultural
are some highly contestable presumptions that form the core of
the project of cultural studies. Paul Willis in his critical
introduction questions Barker’s ‘‘language game’’
account of the ‘‘discursive formation’’ of cultural
studies. Any paradigm of approaching experience through
language can at best be supplementary to the understanding of
culture. The appropriation of cultural studies by the English
departments, is therefore unwarranted and presumptuous. Willis
would rather prefer to ‘‘ground the complex, unwieldy and
weighty category of ‘culture’ ultimately upon notions of
‘experience’ and ‘practice’, sensuously understood and
of cultural studies tends to reduce culture into political
instrument. In other words, it leaves no room for politics
beyond cultural practice. Such a perspective only breeds
forces of fascism and nazism, a totalitarian scenario which
goes against the very democratic claims of cultural studies.
For instance, there is always a possibility of political
solidarity beyond the particularism of cultural differences,
but the enthusiasts of cultural studies dismiss the very
possibility of such a solidarity as culturally incompatible
Indian universities English departments, alert as they are to
catchy global trends, have taken the initiative to re-christen
themselves as Department or School of Cultural Studies. Change
is always welcome provided it is carried out with conviction
and commitment. Otherwise it remains nothing more than a
posture or window-dressing. There are bound to be serious
cultural incongruities in converting English departments in
Indian universities into departments of cultural studies as
long as the entire project is not sufficiently indigenised and
departments of native languages are not included under it.
English departments cannot claim to represent working class
culture or the sensibilities of the people at the grassroots
level as much as departments of Hindi and Punjabi can possibly
do. Unfortunately the anglicised academia is not open enough
to engage any constructive relationship with other language
There is an
unmistakable streak of Macaulayan arrogance even in the
so-called most emancipatory or reformatory gestures of English
dons in India. Under the pretext of post-colonial studies,
which some departments have undertaken to buttress their
claims to cultural studies, authors and texts lionised and
patronised by the western academia are recommended to Third
World students as authentic references. Translation studies,
another possible component of the cultural studies package, is
also quite lopsided in the sense that it promotes translation
of native literature into English and not into other native
universities have started courses on popular culture with no
thrust on folk literature and local oral traditions. What
becomes popular in the West acquires a status symbol in India.
In the name of popular culture, therefore, western popular
tastes are being taught to Indian students. "Harry
Potter" may be popular in the West, in India it has
acquired a status symbol.
ideological level too, there are problems. Since the project
of cultural studies has been appropriated by French
post-structuralism, one wonders the applicability of
free-floating post-disciplinary cultural studies to Indian
situation. One cannot brush aside the distinctness of Indian
nationhood, nor its continuous cultural history. Inter-disciplinarity
has been the core of Indian wisdom, but in no case should
knowledge verge on post-disciplinarity. Paul Willis in his
introduction to the book cautions the exponents of cultural
studies not to unleash "theoretical anarchism" in
the name of liberating education from conservative fold.
studies are not an innocuous, apolitical programme of change.
It is very much an offshoot of the logic of global capitalism
which perpetuates itself under the liberal pretext of flow of
trade information. It is a clever ploy to hegemonise and
appropriate different local cultures across the globe through
a fairly homogenised theoretical rubric. What kind of
radicalism can cultural studies instill among students if it
is to apply rather slavishly imported western paradigms on
texts as different as Anathamoorthy’s "Samskar",
Mahasweta’s ‘‘Mother of 1084" or Chinua Achebe’s
"Things Fall Apart" through a fairly homogenised and
monotonous network of post-modern paradigms? The scope of
plurality of experience is pre-empted by the dominant
discourse of post-modernism.
Barker is cautious enough in
not making universal claims of cultural studies. He is modest
enough to restrict his study to British cultural studies. He
says: "I draw very little from a growing body of work in
Africa, Asia and Latin America and, as such, it would be more
accurate to call this text western cultural studies."
Unfortunately, Indian English academia does not recognise the
distinct western character of cultural studies. Imitating
things from the West without sufficiently indigenising them
for native use is nothing but a vulgar display of derivative
radicalism. It would be much better if we relate our
literature to our experience and work out our own cultural
revolution in North-East
by S.P. Dhawan
in North-East India by Nikunja Behari Biswas. Shipra
Publications, Delhi. Pages 180. Rs 380.
the north-eastern states often hit the headlines as hotbeds of
insurgency, the fact remains that this region, comprising
Arunchal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland
and Tripura, is remarkable for its scenic splendour, abundance
and variety of fauna and flora, richness of culture and
strategic location. It has been colon sad by the people of the
Mangolian origin and the culture has witnessed the entry of
Aryans in the same way as in the north-western part of the
country. Many of the earlier migrants moved into Bengal and
mingled with the Dravidians and the Aryans who were already
there, and in course of time, the bree-ding through marriage,
culture, exchange of ideas and values led to the emergence of
a new people.
Nikunja Behari Biswas, has first-hand knowledge of this area,
particularly in the sphere of education, as he is a Reader in
the Department of Education, Assam University, Silchur.
Earlier he had worked in Arunchal University, Itanagar. The
work under review is a study of the development of education
in the entire North-East with special reference to Arunchal
Pradesh. It is an admirable endeavour to acquaint the readers
with not only education in the modern period but also the
system in ancient times.
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, school education is
a human right, as it develops the basic abilities of a person
to live a full life. It thus enables him to refine himself as
an individual and to become a responsible worker and citizen.
Education thus creates and effectively sustains incentives,
personal objectives and occupational skills in the
socio-economic cultural system.
There is no
evidence to show whether the non-Aryan indigenous people had a
formal system of education before the arrival of the Aryans.
It is, therefore, possible that formal education, except the
hereditary professional learning, was introduced by the Aryans
who reached the north-eastern region about 2000 years ago.
Consequently, ancient Assam turned into an Indo-Aryan
language-speaking zone and adopted the Vedic system of
education based on the gurukul concept and offering
study of philosophy, aryurveda, astrology, arts, crafts and
dancing. The Buddhist education also came to Assam from
Nalanda. In the medieval period pathshalas became
important centres of formal or institutional learning.
began to change with the advent of Christian missionaries from
America, England and Holland, etc. They set up formal schools
in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and other hilly
terrains of the region. The dialects of the different tribes
were developed into full-fledged languages like Khasi, Garo,
Bodo and Mizo. The first printing press, and the first
newspaper in the region also owed their origin to these
contributed to educational upliftment of the region, and
astonishingly, the average literacy percentage for the whole
of the North East minus Arunchal Pradesh rose to the national
level. It has continued to rise ever since. In 1991, Mizoram
could boast of a literacy rate of 81.25 per cent next only to
Kerala (90.31 per cent). Among non-Christian missionary
groups, the Rama Krishna Mission and the Vivekananda Society
have also worked vigorously to spread education in the area.
painstakingly compiled and analysed data to show how this
region has registered a significant progress at various levels
in the sphere of education both before and after independence.
The gross enrolment ratio, an NCERT survey of 1993 shows,
varies between 82.88 (Assam) and 92.13 (Mizoram) against the
national average of 95.32 for every 100 children at the
primary level. Despite the high drop-out rates for girls from
classes I to X, the average female literacy rate compares
favourably with many other parts of India.
But at the
level of higher and technical education, the picture is not so
rosy, as infrastructural support is inadequate. Things are,
however, likely to change for the better as the Centre has
realised the need to take concrete measures. Central
universities have come up in Assam, Tezpur and Nagaland. The
UGC and the IGNOU have also begun playing their role in the
region. To impart technical education, a regional engineering
college has come up at Silchar. The Institute of Science and
Technology is imparting instructions for 19 courses leading to
the certificate, diploma and degree levels. The Government of
India has also set up an IIT at Guwahati in Assam.
deficiency in this region was the unsatisfactory state of
teacher education. For example, there are over 90,000
untrained teachers reflecting the grossly inadequte number of
pre-service training institutes and programmes. But now
corrective measures are being taken and the number of teacher
training schools and colleges is going up.
Pradesh, which receives special attention of the authorities,
is spread over 83,793 sq km and has 110 tribes and sub-tribes
speaking about 60 different dialects. Its educational growth
is largely the outcome of the interaction of socio-economic
and political factors. In the early days the monastic
education imparted by Buddhists had a marginal impact on the
general scene of education. The formal system of education
began only in 1947 when two lower primary schools were started
and since then there has been steady progress at the
elementary, higher secondary and college levels. It is
interesting that prior to the setting up of the Arunachal
University in 1984, colleges of Arunachal were affiliated to
Panjab University. Programmes have also been planned and
implemented to achieve higher literacy through adult and
non-formal kinds of education. In respect of technical
education, however, Arunachal Pradesh has still to depend on
other states, as higher courses are not yet available in its
Arunachal government offers several incentives and enormous
facilities, the percentage of drop-outs is high, as the poor
agriculturists need the help of their children in the fields.
It is good to
learn that women in Arunachal Pradesh, as in the other parts
of the country, are coming forward in increasing numbers to
receive education and to enter various professions. This is
bound to create a healthy climate for the socio-economic and
cultural advancement of the state.
The author has done well to
emphasise the traditional culture of the Arunachal tribes, on
the one hand, and their realisation of the need to join the
mainstream, on the other. The work will be useful for those
connected with and interested in the study of the region with
special emphasis on the role of education. One, however,
wishes that linguistic and printing errors had been removed in
a scholarly work of this nature.
Masjid and its environs
This is a
chapter from "Delhi: Development and Change" by I.
Mohan and brought out by A.P. H. Publishing, New Delhi
a teenaged boy when I took admission in the architecture
school I was asked to sketch a mosque from a library book. In
those days, my school bus happened to pass by the Jama Masjid.
Imagine, for months, I thought that it cannot be the mosque
photographed in the library book as that cannot be so close to
me and moreover cannot exist in such a crowded area. It was
something very psychological, I could not help feeling that.
But now the mosque is very dear to me. I wander it in my every
breath. I hug it, kiss it. From the 11th floor of 22-storeyed
Vikas Minar, Ilook at it, and find its little white dome and
minarets superb, rising distinctly above all green and green.
city had a strong nucleus, besides having a strong economic
base which pulls up the entire society and tie it up in a
chain. The Jama Masjid was such a place that acted as a focal
point in the city. There is, however, no match to the size,
scale and grandeur of Delhi’s Jama Masjid in history.
surrounding bears a festive look. Real life we do find there.
Great hustle and bustle is there. Specially the evening scene
is marvellous when you find people gossiping in groups,
narrating their day’s achievements to their friends.
Children play in dry tanks with joy. You also find a number of
tantriks selling black threads, rings, stones and so
on. Nearby are sold birds in a regular market. You would find
leather goods and woollen clothes in informal markets.
A great drama
greets you as you approach its footsteps. From a distance, the
steps of Jama Masjid do not appear to be so dominating but as
one comes closer, its giant size is gradually revealed and
when one is close to the mosque, one really feels himself very
small in scale. At the steps one finds a number of vendors
selling beef, mutton, biryani, romali roti, and rice in
artistic large-size pots called degchis. That is the
grace of the area which has withstood generations. Of course
the nearby underground market has since accommodated all such
Must be in
early times the mosque’s location was decided by the moghuls
in relation to the Red Fort, with intermediate links of a
bazaar, usually called the Meena Bazaar or Khas Bazaar that
occupied a large area in front of it. Second, it must have
been a grand plaza, with Jama Masjid kept at the centre and
residents occupying positions in the surrounding lanes and
bylanes. Here now have come up regular markets like Chawri
Bazaar, Matia Mahal, Nai Sarak, Kinari Bazaar and so on. The
mosque was visible from all corners of the city and one could
even offer prayer from his residence. Such authenticity did it
command that it dominated all other mosques in the area.
Masjid was built by Shahjahan at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. Its
foundation was laid on October 6, 1550. The architect was
Ustad Khalil. Five thousand workers were daily employed on it.
It was completed in six years. There are three gateways which
are 15 metres high. It resembles the Moti Masjid at Agra. The
minerets are 39 metres high.
of the Jama Masjid have become very much crowded as all vacant
pockets remain filled. From the side of the Darya Ganj
overbridge, as one proceeds towards the mosque along the
Victoria Hospital, an angular vision of the mosque is
revealed, which gradually magnifies as one comes closer to it.
the Subhas Park lies towards the north of it touching the
mosque which with time has very much degraded.
Mahal, an important residential area, is situated on that
side. The Jagat talkies is still drawing huge crowds and the
same age-old vendors could be seen selling snacks during the
interval. Further ahead is the area where thousands of chicken
are dressed for the kitchen. It is full with odd smell and
noise which is irritating.
large wooden boxes you would find fish being packed for
export. There are regular set-ups of ice storage and fish
collecting centres. On the roads are seen vendors selling
fruits, fish, mutton, jalebis and so on. A few mutton
shops are located close by.
famous in the stretch is the Urdu Bazaar where are sold the
most pious and important books in Urdu. The Kitabh Ghar is an
important shop in the area. Close to it is a street called
Matia Mahal which is famous for the market of carpets. The dhabhas
situated in the bazaar serve food to a number of needy
persons. During the Id and other festivals, the bazar is full
of life, selling fine semians. The Dojana Complex lies
ahead where new houses were constructed after demolishing the
old structures. A few good restaurants are located closely.
There are two
beautiful corners one on the north and the other towards the
south of the Jama Masjid. The south one is comparatively more
lively as alround it is located a large junk market (kabari
bazar) where are sold mostly motor parts and other items
at throw away prices. Amidst of it are located some very good
hotels — Vakil and Naaz. On the northern corner are located
many antique shops which are exporting goods. In between the
two corners, facing the Jama Masjid lies a street called
Chawri Bazar which is a wholesale market of paper and hard
boards. It joins Nai Sarak, Hauz Kazi and Ajmeri Gate.
steps of the Jama Masjid on the north side lies one of the
most widely known Ivory markets where hundreds of tourists
drop every day. Previously as passages and roads were clear,
more tourists were coming but now due to fencing and closing
of passages and streets, the sale in the market has
considerably gone down. Ahead of this market are cracker
shops, which supply goods all over India in all seasons, The
way further leads to Chandni Chowk through Kinari Bazar and to
the Red Fort via the Parade Ground.
many controversies have rocked the area. Previously a number
of shops that had come up all along it and spoilt its
appearance were demolished by the authorities which further
were rehabilitated in an underground market situated closeby.
Soon, there flourished the same early environment and vendors
again came up on the footpath and built regular kiosks. Along
the Parade Ground an identical informal environment is built,
where a market of birds, leather goods and woollen clothes has
Masjid environment unfortunately has been very poorly planned.
All around for security reasons regular iron grills have been
put up and police pickets have come up at various places.
Specially from the ivory market side it gives a very dull
appearance. At Paiwalan, the most controvential side at one
time, schools have come up.
its environ from the past to the present, culture of the area
stands almost still and the same delicacy we do find of
eatables sold and in the selling behaviour of the vendors. The
mosque is a wonderful gathering place for the Muslim
Masjid environs have a vast scope for improvement and passages
should be made free for pedestrian movement. The two spacious
corners on the north and south could be made more beautiful by
placing flower pots and leafy plants. Let high brick platforms
be built for gathering purposes and let the people watch TV or
hear radio from these ends. Near the Kitab Ghar, a library may
be opened in some residence so that the area could become
intellectually more identifiable. More cleanliness is
required, for which various associations should come forward
and voluntarily take up the assignments. There is no need to
disturb any area like chicken market or the fish market as
that has its own charm and moreover with that many other
institutions are linked. Disturbing them would mean removing
people from employment.
The Jama Masjid environment
is a crowded one and will be more so by the end of the
century. So are we taking up the needful care right now?
Otherwise we will be held responsible for creating deliberate
problems for the public.
was published on December 24, 2000